St James the Great

Situated in the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this Grade II* listed church dates back to at least the 12th century.

About this church

The tower of the present church dates from the 12th century. The Domesday Book refers to a priest in Cradley and to the Bishop of Hereford owning land in the parish. Although not specifically mentioned, it is therefore likely that there was a Saxon church on the site, and some stones with Saxon carvings are set randomly into the external walls.

Of particular interest to visitors is the historic association of Cradley church with Revd Dr Thomas Bisse, Rector from 1713 to 1731, Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral and brother of the then Bishop of Hereford. He was instrumental in founding the annual Three Choirs Festival, which is now considered to be the oldest regular music festival in the world. The font (1722) and tenor bell (1724) were given by him. The chancel was restored in 1867-8 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and in 1869-70 the nave was restored, and the north aisle added, by AE Perkins.

The east window (1872), by Hardman & Co of Birmingham, was given in memory of Thomas Webb, founder of the eponymous firm making fine English glass and crystal in Stourbridge, who spent his retirement in Cradley. The St Francis window (1936) in the north wall of the Sanctuary commemorates the family of Revd Thomas Ayscough (Rector from 1892 to 1917) and is an outstanding example of the work of AJ Davies of the Bromsgrove Guild. It is of national significance. The front choir stalls were made at the Morgan Motor Company’s workshop in Malvern, donated by the Morgan family, and have small representations of Morgan sports cars on the central feet. The cross above the sanctuary, donated by a parishioner, was also made at the Morgan factory.

The churchyard is very picturesque, with its 16th century lychgate and the village hall, a half timbered 15th century building standing in its southeast corner.

The church is open daily and visitors are always welcome. In its beautiful setting it is a popular place for walkers to stop and enjoy the free self service refreshments that we provide.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access throughout
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches


Great Malvern Priory

When the priory was founded in the 11th century, this part of Worcestershire was a densely wooded forest, probably as remote as anywhere in England.


St James the Great

The church is in Old Colwall, at the time of the Doomsday Book it consisted of 23 households including an episcopal manor of the Bishop of Hereford.


St John the Baptist

Amidst rolling Malvern Hills countryside, our deep historic roots tell a fascinating story to visitors who may also enjoy the GeoPark Way, Worcestershire Way, Three Choirs Way, Elgar Trail and several nature reserves all within walking distance.

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